by Katie Mihalek


Sitting in the belly of a Target clothes rack,
my 5-year-old butt is perched on the metal
rod, trying to not roll the rickety wheels off
this skeleton spine that frames doors in every
direction, slotted between hanger ribs. I

remember thinking this clothing rack, filled
with discount summer t-shirts, thin fabric
draped in pastel layers I could knit
my hands into, that let my bare arms brush
against slipping sheets and rippled against
goosebump prickles—this was a special place.

How often do you stand in the middle of
clothes? Not piled, not inside, but with them
flat, around you, with space intact. I was
in awe. Did it feel different, to be in between

layers? To filter into this inside built
by hangers swaying in this softness, built
by light shone through dye, adorned
by plastic iron-on decals; this as a secret
signage. I sat in that belly and thought about whales.

Their filtering teeth—no, not teeth, like willows
on a weeping tree, their branches and leaves swaying
sheets of cotton, polyester, nylon. I was
swallowed into stomach, felt that underwater cradle. Sat
in that chapel cavern, organ ridges arched
in digestive beams, knit together because

this is what worship looks like, because
unlike Jonah, this is where I am
at home, to be in the middle of this layering:
so I sat, with the metal pole down the middle,
skeleton spine for all this swaying, down in the center

of that Stomach